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76r
March 7, 2011, 11:02 PM
I have an old Smith & Wesson revolver. The barrel is stamped ".455 Colt". I have old casings stamped ".455 Colt". However, I can't find any info on this caliber...just ".455 Webley". :confused:
Can you tell me anything about this caliber, history, reloading specs, etc?

Mike Irwin
March 8, 2011, 12:50 AM
The .455 Colt is actually the old British .455 Webley Mk I cartridge, which started out as a blackpowder round in 1892.

When the switch was made to Cordite (smokeless) powder in 1897, the case was shortened a bit, a bout .1 inches, to create the .455 Webley Mk II.

Ballistically the two rounds were pretty much the same.

Colt, Smith & Wesson and others chambered the .455 Webley Mk I as the .455 Colt up until about World War I, primarily for sale in Canada. Ammunition was loaded in the United States up through to about 1930.

gyvel
March 8, 2011, 04:15 AM
If you get desperate for ammo, you can make .455 ammo from .45 Colt cases by shortening them and thinning the rim.

76r
March 8, 2011, 11:40 AM
Thanx for the responses.
I can get (when available) loaded .455 Webley cartridges by Fiocchi thru a dealer here in Canada, but I wasn't sure if I was looking at the same dog!
I also wanted to be sure I could follow .455 Webley reloading specs as I have only seen for that cartridge, never .455 Colt. And although it is not a heavy (:D) round, I didn't want to 'just give her a try' sort of thing!

76r
March 8, 2011, 11:50 AM
I'm not sure of the age of this firearm, but it is apparently an old RCMP service revolver (c/w I.D. stampings just ahead of the cyliinder on the barrel). It has been a 'safe queen' in the family scince 1975 (+-) and is in real nice shape.
Im not really interested in firing it, I just want ammo to complete the arrangement! ;)

Mike Irwin
March 8, 2011, 12:26 PM
What's the serial number off the bottom of the grip, and someone here will be able to pin down a year of manufacture for you.

gyvel
March 8, 2011, 03:20 PM
Actually, .455 Colt was loaded for years by C.I.L. under the "Dominion" brand if I recall. Since you are in Canada, you should be able to find some of those floating around to compliment your revolver.

In years past, it was either that or corrosive British surplus. I used to grab every box I could find, either on dealers' shelves or at gun shows since the C.I.L. stuff was reloadable.

Edit: Yes, it was "Dominion" (another name used by C.I.L.) and not "Canuck."

Mike Irwin
March 8, 2011, 03:47 PM
I think CIL dropped .455 Colt in the late 1950s or early 1960s.

I'd suspect that the supply is drying up, if it hasn't already.

76r
March 8, 2011, 04:43 PM
The casings I have are 'Dominion'. (I'd bet that's a 'C.I.L.' label; I seem to remember shotshell cartons of both names bearing the same label/logo; 'Imperial' as well I think; anyway they sound Canadian with the 'Monarchy' reference :D )

76r
March 12, 2011, 08:21 PM
Mike,
The serial number is 33-6*7.
Thanx

Mike Irwin
March 12, 2011, 09:31 PM
CIL was Canadian Industries Limited.

IIRC the company was organized after World War II and took over operations at the old Dominion Arsenal.

That serial number very likely means that it's a .455 Mark II Second Model, manufactured between 1915-1917. The majority of these guns went to the British, but over 15,000 went to Canada.

76r
March 13, 2011, 11:44 AM
Thanx for the info.
I appreciate your help. :)

Mike Irwin
March 13, 2011, 01:34 PM
Thinking about this some more...

I don't know why the gun, if made for Canada under a WW I blanket contract, would have been chambered for the .455 Colt, which was the longer case and was obsolete as a military use item...

Tell me, when the cylinder is closed, does the ejector rod fit in a protected shroud (housing), or is it exposed along the bottom of the barrel with the front supported by a lug?

76r
March 15, 2011, 02:24 PM
Mike,
The ejector rod is just supported at the front when closed; not full length shroud.
There are 2 crossed flags (RCMP symbols)? stamped on the back of the cylinder, visible when open. And another stamp of the same, on the left side of the barrel just ahead of the cylinder. Below this 2nd stamp, on the cylinder mount is a large X with a - thru it.

Mike Irwin
March 15, 2011, 03:57 PM
OK, it's definitely a second model.

Don't know what the crossed flags might be, I'm not at all familiar with Canadian markings.

James K
March 15, 2011, 09:15 PM
I am not sure about Canadian marks either, but crossed pennants is the British military proof/acceptance mark. If the gun was in British service it should also have a broad arrow, the British property mark. A "C" with a broad arrow in it, is the Canadian property mark.

Just FWIW, CIL once turned out a whole batch of that .455 headstamped ".455 CLOT". Some red faces there, I am sure.

Jim

76r
March 15, 2011, 09:44 PM
:)Thanx again for the info posts. I appreciate it.:)

RickB
March 16, 2011, 02:54 PM
That serial number very likely means that it's a .455 Mark II Second Model, manufactured between 1915-1917. The majority of these guns went to the British, but over 15,000 went to Canada.

I have one of these, and it is not marked .455 Colt, but merely .455. Mine has been converted to .45 ACP, and the second "5" in .455 has been X-d out and an "AR" (Auto Rim) stamp added. I have WWII-era Canadian military ammo, and it does fit in my Webley Mk. I, which makes sense, since the later cartridge has a shorter case. My S&W has a M1917 cylinder fitted, so I can't make any determination about the original chambering.

Dave Anderson
April 7, 2011, 11:58 AM
The markings seem to be military acceptance stamps. The RCMP and its predecessors (RNWMP and NWMP) were never issued the S&W in .455. First calibers issued were .450 Adams, then .476 Enfield. The Colt New Service in .45 Colt was adopted around 1905 and was (so far) the longest-serving issue sidearm, remaining in service for 49 years until 1954.

In 1954 the RCMP adopted the S&W M&P in .38 Special with 5" barrel. It remained in service for some 40 years until replaced as the standard sidearm for uniformed officers by the 9mm S&W 5946 in the 1990s.

The .455 was used in British service revolvers prior to and during WW I. When British gunmakers couldn't begin to meet demand as the military expanded during the war, Britain contracted with S&W and Colt for revolvers, and as a matter of logistics specified they be in .455. Since Canadian troops were fighting alongside British forces from 1914 on it made sense to use the same cartridge.

76r
April 7, 2011, 06:43 PM
Thanx for the additional info. It sounds like the consensus is it is an ex military sidearm; not RCMP then.

rabbit
September 15, 2011, 06:27 PM
hi , can you please post a picture i would really like to see what a 455 S&W looks like , rabbit

RJay
September 15, 2011, 08:57 PM
rabbit, it looks just like a S&W Service Model of 1917. There are no special features

James K
September 15, 2011, 09:35 PM
The RNWMP/RCMP used .45 Colt, but the Canadian army, as part of the British Empire and Commonwealth forces, used the .455.

Jim

76r
September 16, 2011, 08:38 PM
Rabbit, if you're thinking that it is similar to Dirty Harry's S&W .44mag, only bigger and badder :D...you would be badly mistaken!
It has a very thin barrel due to the low power/velocity. I have bounced bullets back off of wood timbers!
I will post a pic if you still are curious though.

rabbit
September 19, 2011, 01:52 PM
great , I luv ond sixguns and auto also.
rabbit

mkk41
September 20, 2011, 04:10 PM
The .455 Colt was also known as the .455 Eley , a different round than the .455 Webley. It was longer (1.388 OAL-.885 case length) , with a few grains heavier bullet.

I have a 1918 Colt New Service in .455 Eley.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v491/mkk41/P7030001.jpg


Ya can shoot the shorter .455 Webley (1.227 OAL-.748 case length) with no problems other than a different point of impact.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v491/mkk41/20110920_01.jpg

gyvel
September 20, 2011, 05:47 PM
The .455 Colt was also known as the .455 Eley

I always thought the .455 Eley was the .455 Self Loading, although the Brits could have used the same name for more than one cartridge.

rabbit
September 20, 2011, 06:21 PM
hello there were two .455 and .455 self Loading [ auto], the great thing you can learn on the net, rabbit

mkk41
September 20, 2011, 06:28 PM
The Brits are even more confusing than us Yanks.

There's the .455 Eley = .455 Colt = .455 Enfield = .455 Revolver Mk.I

Then there's the.455 Webley Mk.II revolver , and the .455 Webley Automatic.

And there's great info in that wonderful book , Barnes Cartridges of the World!

James K
September 20, 2011, 11:55 PM
Note of caution. It seems unlikely given the rarity of the .455 Automatic cartridge, but do NOT fire them in a .455 revolver. They will work because the .455 Auto is semi-rimmed, but the pressure is a lot higher than .455 revolvers were designed for. The British War Department put out a notice on the subject at one time.

On much the same subject, if you have one of those .455 Webleys (Mks I-VI) that were converted to use .45 ACP with moon clips, DO NOT fire standard or mil spec .45 ACP or any heavier .45 ACP load in it. Some of those guns have blown with normal .45 ACP GI ammo. In spite of the Webley lovers, even the Mk VI is not the strongest revolver in the world or anywhere near it. So don't blow one of those old timers trying to prove it is.

Also, the often-made statement that the Colt autos made for the .455 Auto are identical to the .45 ACP gun. Not true, even the frames are different to take the wider magazines, and barrels and slides are different.

Jim

gyvel
September 21, 2011, 09:16 AM
hello there were two .455 and .455 self Loading [ auto], the great thing you can learn on the net, rabbit

The magazine for the .455 Colt 1911 I had was marked "Cal .455 Eley."

James K
September 21, 2011, 10:44 AM
Yep, that is what Colt marked them. Without a time machine, I doubt we will ever know why. Note that a .455 magazine is wider than a .45 ACP magazine and won't fit in the .45 ACP pistol.

At a gun show a couple of years ago, I mentioned that to a dealer who had a .455 magazine on his table. He called me "a dumb sh*t" and said they were the same. He picked up a .45 ACP pistol and tried to put the .455 magazine in it. It wouldn't go. Then he hammered the mag on the table, then on the floor, bending the lanyard loop and the base plate lip. He finally got it almost in, turned to me (I was standing there, horror struck) and said, triumphantly, "See, dummy, it fits." I walked away shaking my head at a fool who would ruin a $150 magazine because he was too stupid to concede a point.

Jim

30-30remchester
September 21, 2011, 07:18 PM
Hornaday is now manufacturing 455 Webley MKII ammo.

rabbit
September 23, 2011, 01:43 PM
hi yes 30-30 horday is making standard .455 amoo , but not the .455 auto

gyvel
September 24, 2011, 03:28 AM
Bit of a PITA, but .455 Self Loading can be easily made by trimming back .45 Colt cases, cutting an extractor groove and thinning and turning the rims down a bit.

Generally it is best to fire them in a wide open area with a brass spotter, though.

James K
September 24, 2011, 11:39 AM
Hi, Gyvel,

What kind of bullet did you use? I did the same thing with cases, but I had a problem and never did really solve it. The .455 Auto bullet that is outside the case is almost a round ball, and I couldn't get bullets that would seat properly yet be within the COAL. Of course, regular .45 ACP with the bullets seated deeper will work in both the .455 Colt and the Webley because the extractor will hold the case, but that is not really the way to go.

Jim

gyvel
September 25, 2011, 11:45 PM
I'll have to dig out my old Lyman book to get the number, but, if I recall, I used a 200 grain lead round nose of theirs. The rounds worked well enough, but I was rewarded with a cracked grip and an hour long hunt for the brass. LOLL

Regarding .45 ACP, I have only had success using the naval auto as a single shot, since, as you pointed out, the OAL is lionger than the .455

James K
September 26, 2011, 12:05 AM
I said earlier that I didn't know why Colt called the cartridge(s) the .455 Eley instead of the .455 Webley. I mentioned the question to a friend yesterday and his reply may be the answer. He said that Eley didn't make guns, only ammo, and that Colt never would put the name of a competitor, even a foreign one, on its guns.

Jim

gyvel
September 26, 2011, 05:56 AM
That would make sense^^^^^^^^^^.

RickB
October 14, 2011, 02:37 PM
hi , can you please post a picture i would really like to see what a 455 S&W looks like , rabbit

rabbit, it looks just like a S&W Service Model of 1917. There are no special features

There were two versions, the original was of the New Century or Triple Lock design. In the trenches, the underbarrel lug and crane lock tended to get fouled with mud (and they were expensive), so the Mk. II version, without the crane lock and with exposed ejector was developed. The M1917 was based on the second model, but with a 5.5" rather than 6.5" barrel. The grips on the British contract pistols retained the checkering and gold medallions of commercial guns, while the M1917 had smooth, unadorned grips.

32 Magnum
October 14, 2011, 03:31 PM
What looks like an X with a line through it is actually an ENGLISH military property marks - the BROAD ARROWs facing each other meeting at the points. This is the standard mark when a former military accepted piece is put up or released for surplus resale.

74578

Asgardnz
November 26, 2011, 09:14 PM
Old Fiocchi .455 ammunition I had used to split the cases easily. I hope their cases are better these days. Modern Hornady brass should be good.